TACOMA, Wash.—New or prospective cannabis cultivators should learn as much as they can and not be afraid to share their knowledge with others, the Cultivation Panel told its audience here at the Imperious Cannabis Business Expo July 20-21.
“I’ve been in the business for 35 years, and there’s no stupid questions. You learn something new every day,” said Dennis Clark from the Excelsior, Minn.-based O2 Grow.
He advised bringing along photographs when seeking help from him or others. “Pictures are everything; they are helpful. It’s not like Monsanto, where you’re trying to keep a secret. We can help you,” Clark said. “Build relationships, ask questions, find people you like. You’ll find there’s 50 grows, and they all are doing it differently. Eventually, everyone will find the best way.”
The two-day event in the Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall featured more than 90 business vendors, speakers and exhibitors in the legal medical and industrial cannabis industry.
In addition to Clark, the Cultivation Panel included John Chandler from urban-gro, a cultivation consulting company in Lafayette, Colo.; Mike Long, also known as The Grow Expert; and Sunny Kaercher from Miller Soils in Boulder, Colo.
Although cautioning growers that they have to be careful, Clark did encourage them to help one another. “There’s enough for everyone… Use local people and learn as much as you can. This is a lot of money.”
Chandler echoed those sentiments, noting Colorado’s cannabis industry is more open than Washington or other states. “Secretive growers don’t get results. Being open has its advantages,” he said.
Beyond networking with other growers, the panel also advised being smart businesspeople and good horticulturists.
Long said the most overlooked aspect about successful growers is that they keep an eye on the bottom line or profit margin. “Those who can grow the most for the least money will be the ones who survive. All the small things add up. Unless you can get it down to $1,000 a pound wholesale, you won’t be in business,” he said.
Cannabis has specific needs that growers must be aware of, especially water and nutrients, he added. “I’ve heard so many people say, ‘It’s a weed. How hard can it be?’ You get out of it what you put into it.”
Chandler emphasized reducing risk by removing people from the processes of adding and monitoring the water and nutrients, using machinery instead. He also recommended bio-controls, such as mites instead of expensive and potentially harmful chemical sprays.
Kaercher said there’s a lot to learn, but it will get easier as growers become more experienced. As an example, she explained how using mushrooms and worms, especially African night crawlers, can help “re-use” the soil.
Using electrolysis instead of a bubbler will help improve your grows and let you to provide fewer nutrients, Clark said. Noting that the cannabis industry’s science came out of the fish industry, he added that trucks transporting fish around dams use electrolysis to keep the water oxygenated.
“You need to put a lot of oxygen in a little water. Water is precious; it is the most important part of the industry. It all goes back to the basics,” he said. “Dissolved oxygen is simple but important. Warmer water doesn’t hold oxygen, so people buy a chiller. Except they don’t realize the bubbler takes oxygen out of the water.”
Chandler also emphasized efficiency, such as irrigation systems that re-use water, saying that it can produce 20 times more grams per gallon if done correctly.
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